As part of Access’ Ad Grant series, we look at the eligibility criteria for charities looking to apply
Raising awareness of a cause is vital to how charities operate – it leads to donations, volunteers, and an increased ability to deliver services to those who need them most.
Google Ad Grants provide a way for charities to reach their audiences quickly and efficiently, by appearing in a Google search result at exactly the time someone is looking up something related to their cause.
The Ad Grants scheme provides more than £7,500 of free Google Ads every month to eligible not-for-profit organisations. The programme is designed to help people connect with causes to make a greater impact on the world.
To qualify for Google Ad Grants, charities must begin by applying to Google for Non-profits. To do this, they must hold valid charity status.
For organisations in England and Wales, this means being registered with the Charity Commission. In order to do that, income must exceed £5,000 and organisations must satisfy the definition of a charity set out in the Charities Act.
The Charities Act says that a ‘charity’ is an institution which is established for charitable purposes only and is subject to the control of the High Court’s charity law jurisdiction.
In Scotland, a voluntary organisation must meet the ‘Charity Test’ as set out by OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator, while organisations registered with the Charity Commission of Northern Ireland are also eligible.
If an organisation is not a registered charity but is a not-for-profit organisation with charitable tax-exempt status with HMRC, the UK government’s tax body, then they are also eligible. Philanthropic arms of educational institutions are included in this, but governmental entities and organisations, hospitals and medical groups, schools, academic institutions, and universities are not.
Essentially, any organisation that can register for the Charity Digital Exchange programme can register for Google for Non-Profits, as long as they are:
Organisations that fit the criteria must also acknowledge and agree to Google’s required certifications regarding non-discrimination and donation receipt and use.
After an organisation is enrolled in Google for Non-profits, they will need to get approved through the Ad Grants pre-qualification process.
This means having a high-quality website that meets the Ad Grants website policy.
Google defines a high-quality website as meeting the following criteria:
Once charities are approved for a Google Ad Grant, they must follow Google’s ongoing programme policies, including, but not limited to, the maintenance of website quality, the running of mission-based campaigns, and high ad quality.
Below are explanations of some of the policy guidelines, as published by Google, but it is important to remember that these are not exhaustive, and organisations should refer to the Ad Grant Compliance documents or seek advice to understand the full extent of the policies.
Organisations must continue to maintain their website to the high-quality guidelines described previously. Commercial activity must not be the primary purpose of your website.
This includes sales of products and services, offering consultations, generating leads, and providing referrals. Any limited commercial activities must describe how they support your mission.
The ads you create also cannot point to holding pages that are used to primarily send visitors to other websites. Ads from Google AdSense or other affiliate advertising links are not permitted on your organisation’s website while participating in Google Ad Grants.
Each ad and keyword in your Ad Grant account must reflect your organisation’s primary mission. It must be relevant to your not-for-profit’s programmes and services, and be specific enough to provide a good experience for the user seeing your ads. You can advertise to sell products as long as 100% of the proceeds are going to support your programme.
Organisations must be proactive in their Google Ads management by logging in to the account monthly. If a not-for-profit organisation with a Google Grant does not log into their Google Ads account, the account is subject to being paused without notification.
Ad Grant accounts must have specific geo-targeting to show ads in locations where users will find your organisation’s information and services useful.
Ad Grants accounts who are not exclusively using Google’s automated Smart Campaigns tool must maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month (at the account level, not necessarily each keyword). If the CTR requirement isn’t met for 2 consecutive months, your account will be temporarily deactivated.
Google states that any organisation in violation of these guidelines is subject to removal from the programme. They also reserve the right to supplement or amend these eligibility guidelines at any time.
While there are many benefits to Google Ad Grants, the criteria can be intimidating – at least at first. Fortunately, there are organisations out there that can support charities on their Ad Grants journey.
The Ad Grants Certified Professionals Community is designed to support organisations by connecting them with qualified professionals who can help them get the most out of their ad grant.
Ad Grants’ unique features require specific expertise to best utilise the grant and succeed online. Often, partnering with an agency professional can extend your organisation’s resources and maximise value.
The Access Group is one of seven companies in the UK certified by Google under the Ad Grants Certified Professionals scheme to support charities in applying for and running their ad grants.
The Ad Grants Certified Professionals Community brings together agencies with Ad Grants experience and not-for-profit sector expertise. It connects organisations with recommended professionals with the aim of enhancing the Ad Grants experience for consultants and charities alike.
Discover more about how Access can help you apply for a Google Ad Grant with its Ultimate Guide to Google Ad Grants